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Date posted: 10 April 2012
In a Queensland first, three Indigenous liaison officers have started work in the Townsville hospital's emergency department to help bridge the cultural divide and support Indigenous patients undergoing emergency care.
Vanessa Corowa, Shazza Mallie and Dorothy Smith started work last month after a four-week orientation.
Emergency department director Dr Niall Small said he was delighted to welcome the three new staff.
'The positions are focussed on supporting ED staff in their care of Indigenous patients including helping staff to understand cultural norms and sensitivities,' he said.
'We treat a large number of Indigenous patients every year including many who come from very remote places in the Gulf and Cape.
'Helping our staff to understand the cultural perspective of Indigenous patients and improve communication ultimately results in better care.'
Ms Smith said her role included helping break down communication barriers and encouraging patients to trust and talk to their treating doctors and nurses.
'Many patients are reluctant to give doctors information and there can be fear and mistrust of the unknown and unfamiliar,' she said.
Ms Mallie said another part of the role was to support families.
'We are also there to help families access accommodation and other support services and to help them navigate their way around the hospital system,' she said.
District executive director of Indigenous health Carl Grant said the positions were funded through the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) National partnerships agreement.
Source: Queensland Health